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Letter No. 12 of Joseph R. Smallwood on Confederation



Editor Daily News ,
Dear Sir:
Many people have written me from all parts of the Island to comment upon my series of letters in the Daily News. The large majority said they were favourably impressed. I have been asked a number of questions, and a number of points have been made. This present letter is written to answer these questions and points. I put the questions and points in quotation marks and then make my reply.
"Canada will tax our houses, boats and gardens."
False. Not a word of truth in it. The Government of Canada does not tax houses, or gardens, or animals, or poultry, or boats, or flakes, or stages, or fishing-gear anywhere in Canada. It never did tax them. It never will tax them.
"If the Canadian Government does not tax these things, then the Provincial Government of Newfoundland will tax them."
False. There are nine Provincial Governments in Canada. NOT ONE of these Provincial Governments taxes these things, and never did, and never will. If Newfoundland unites with Canada, Newfoundland will have her own Provincial Government. Our Provincial Government would not tax these things any more than the other nine Provincial Governments do.
"If the Dominion Government does not, and if the Provincial Government does not, then the Town Council will."
Maybe. The St. John's Municipal Council taxes the houses in St. John's. The Windsor Town Council taxes the houses in Windsor. The West Corner Brook taxes the houses in West Corner Brook. Other Town Councils in Newfoundland tax the houses in their settlements.
Are the people of Windsor, Corner Brook West, Port aux Basques, etc., forced to have Town Councils? No.
It is up to the people of any settlement to decide for themselves if they will have a Town Council. Nobody forced them, and nobody can force them. It is up to themselves whether they will pay a house-tax to pay for local conveniences and improvements, such as water and sewerage, paved sidewalks, garbage collection, etc.
That is how it is now. That is how it would be under Confederation. Nobody can ever force the people of the outports to have Town Councils and local taxes. It is up to themselves, and it always will be up to themselves, Confederation or no Confederation.
"The Government of Canada will tax us to death."
Nonsense. Does the Canadian Government tax the Canadian people to death? Of course not. The Canadian people are much better off than we are. The Canadian people pay a smaller share of their money to their Government than we pay to our Government.
The only direct tax Newfoundlanders would pay the Canadian Government is Income Tax.
"Canadian Income Taxes would take all our money."
Nonsense. A married man with two children would have to make $112 a month cash before he would pay any Income Tax at all, and then he would pay only $1.26 a month. If he had three children he would pay only thirty-six cents a month. If he had four children he would pay nothing.
A married person with four depending on him would have to make $137.50 a month before paying any Income Tax, and then it would be only eleven cents a month.
A married person with five depending on him would have to make $175 a month before paying any Income Tax, and then it would be only twenty-one cents a month.
A married person with eight depending on him would have to make $250 a month before paying any Income Tax, and then it would be only $1.18 a month.
The Canadian Income Tax falls heavily on the person with a big monthly income and no dependents - yes. But that person should pay.
They don't feed the fat sow in Canada . They put the heaviest taxes on those with the biggest incomes. In Newfoundland it is often the other way around.
"But if they don't take it from you in Income Tax, they'll get it some other way,"
What other way? If Newfoundland imports goods from other countries, we will pay duty on those goods. But not Newfoundland duty. We would pay Canadian duty, which is much lower. But why should we import anything from other countries, when we can import everything we need from Canada , and pay no duty at all?
"The Canadians would come down here and take our country from us."
Would they take the Grand Falls mill? Or the Corner Brook mill? Or the Buchans mine? Or our timber? Who would cut it down and handle it? Newfoundlanders, at good wages. If they "took" our water-power, they would have to invest a lot of money in it, and Newfoundlanders would get work at good wages. If they "took" our fish, they would have to invest a lot of money to do so, and Newfoundlanders would get lots of work at good wages.
No, the Canadians can't come down here and carry off any part of our country. The most they could do would be to invest large amounts of money to open up our country. That would give lots of work at good wages. That would make our country prosperous.
"The Canadian Government would boss Newfoundland ."
No, they would not. They do not boss Nova Scotia , or New Brunswick, or Ontario, or any other Province. Because every Province has its own Provincial Government.
We would have our own elected House of Assembly. We would have our own elected Government. Our own Government would be boss over Newfoundland.
The Canadian Government would help our Newfoundland Government, not boss them. They would give our Newfoundland Government millions of dollars every year to help them to carry on. The Canadian Government gives millions of dollars to all the Provincial Governments every year.
Besides giving money, the Canadian Government would help our Newfoundland Government in many other ways.
But no bossing.
" Canada would not buy our fish."
Yes she would, at least some of it. Our fish would go into any part of Canada duty-free. Our fish would have the same chance to sell in Quebec, Ontario and other Provinces as Nova Scotia fish.
But even if Canada does not buy our fish, what harm is that ? We will just go on selling our fish where we always sold it. The Government of Canada will help us to sell it, for they have trade agents stationed in every large country in the world.
"We would have to compete with Canadian fish."
Our fish would be Canadian fish, if we united with Canada.
We are competing with Canadian fish now, and always have in the past.
But under Confederation it will be much easier to compete with fish produced in other parts of Canada, for the cost of living will be lower, and the cost of producing fish will be lower. Under Confederation a great burden will be lifted off our fisheries, and we would be much better able to compete with anybody than we are now.
"Canada would take more from us than she gave us."
The Canadian Government takes more from the Province of Ontario than they give back. They take more from the Province of Quebec than they give back. They take more from the Province of British Columbia than they give back.
But they give more to Nova Scotia than they take. They give more to New Brunswick than they take back.
They give more to Prince Edward Island than they take back. They give more to Manitoba than they take back. They give more to Alberta than they take back. They give more to Saskatchewan than they take back.
There are nine Provinces in Canada now. The Government of Canada takes more from three of them than they give back, because these three are very rich Provinces: Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. They give more to six of them than they take from them - because these six Provinces are not so rich as the other three.
Newfoundland would be like the six Provinces - she would get more than she would give.
The Canadian Government would give Newfoundland at least $2 for every $1 she took from us.
The Canadian Government wants all the nine Provinces to be healthy and prosperous and happy, not just three of them. So they take from the rich Provinces and give to the Provinces that are not so rich.
Isn't that very wise Government?
"Newfoundland wouldn't get the same benefits that other Provinces get."
We would get the same Family Allowances. We would get the same Old Age Pensions. We would get the same National Health benefits. We would get the same Unemployment Relief. We would get the same Cash Subsidy from the Dominion Government. Our war veterans would get the same benefits. Canadian goods would come into Newfoundland duty-free and Newfoundland goods would go into Canada duty-free.
Yes, we would get the same benefits; and if we drive a hard bargain we may even get a bit better.
"Why would Canada want us?"
If Canada wants us, it is because she would like all British North America to be one great country. Newfoundland is the only part of British North America that has not joined up with Canada. The Dominion of Canada is never complete until Newfoundland unites with it.
Canada would like to have all our trade. If we unite with Canada, all goods from Canada will be duty-free, so of course we would buy all our goods from her. That would give Canada a big trade of sixty or seventy million dollars a year.
If we join up with Canada, we would try to sell our rich Labrador to the Government of Canada, and then Canada would be so much the stronger and richer.
"If we joined up with Canada, who would own Labrador?"
Newfoundland owns Labrador now, and Newfoundland would still own Labrador if she wanted it.
But Newfoundland has not got the capital to develop Labrador. We would probably want to sell it. The Government of Canada would probably like to buy it for a good price. But we can't be forced to sell it.
"What about our fisheries along the Labrador coast?"
Whatever happens, we will always hold on to our fisheries in Labrador. If we decide to sell Labrador to the Canadian Government, we will hold on to all our fishing rights.
"Why couldn't we sell Labrador without joining up with Canada?"
Probably we could. But if we did we would not get so good a price for it. And if we sold Labrador to Canada, and did not join up with Canada, our people would not get the jobs and wages when Canada opened up Labrador. If we join Canada, our people would get lots of work when Labrador is opened up.
Tomorrow I will conclude my answers.
Yours truly,
Joseph R. Smallwood

Source: Joseph R. SMALLWOOD, letter to the editor, The Daily News, March 20, 1946.


© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College